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One Hundred Years Young

by D. McDowell

Manitoba Pageant, Summer 1979, Volume 24, Number 4

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

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In 1879 the Rev. G. Roddick's party of Nova Scotia took the wrong trail and ended up at Grand Valley. After advice from an Indian the leaders explored the area of the Blue Hills of Brandon and found shelter, wood and water. On May 24, Simon McJay swam the Assiniboine with a rope, and it guided a waterproofed wagon box as a ferry for the party to the south side. Near the end of the hills they took up their lands with fair precision (later checked by the turns of a wagon wheel from the nearest surveyors line north of the river), and the community of Brandon Hills began.

July 6, 7, and 8, 1979 saw the centennial celebration of this rural community and a grand time it was. After a Friday evening display and dance at the Brandon Keystone Center, the Old Timers' Picnic was held at its usual site on the north slope of the Brandon Hills, 10 miles southeast of Brandon. In good weather, the races, horseshoes and ball games were supplemented with contests of the weight of a watermelon, pennies in a jar, raffles of a quilt, chocolates and a grass trimmer, and a ball-throw dunking tank kept many busy. There was plenty of visiting as close to 1000 (more than 3 times the usual annual number) renewed acquaintances and exchanged memories of community events and bay sayings. All shared in an evening barbecue and music, interspersed with honouring the sons and daughters of the first pioneers, and the teachers of the community. There were prizes for the youngest baby, the oldest man and woman, the oldest couple, the most recently married couple, and the largest family present.

The Sunday saw a special church service in the Brandon Hills United Church, followed by the unveiling of a centennial plaque on the 1939 cairn to the Pioneers.

The organizers of the weekend are to be commended for their successful celebration, complete with a hardcover Centennial History. For those who would like further details, write Ken Macpherson, R.R. #4 Brandon, Man. R7A 5Y4 and enclose $12.00 and postage for their book The Brandon Hills Story.

Page revised: 20 July 2009

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